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Published On: Wed, Mar 25th, 2015

How Truck Drivers Wish You Would Drive

Traveling at high speeds alongside a rig with 18 wheels and a cab big enough to contain a pair of elephants, it’s enough to make anyone with a survival instinct feel nervous. And for good reason. Each year, upwards of 250K accidents happen because cars and semis collide.

protesters use semi trucks to create a blockade of their ownUnfortunately, in a disproportionate number of those accidents (70 percent) the car driver made the critical mistake. For truckers, these accidents are particularly distressing. Being the driver of the larger vehicle means they are inherently more likely to cause injury and death, and when an accident does occur, a driver’s freight and his or her livelihood are at stake.

The basics

Here are some basic rules that every driver should know before they encounter a semi truck on the highway.

  1. Trucks require more distance (space over time) to perform the same maneuvers that a car can execute quickly.  This includes acceleration, breaking, and passing other cars.
  2. They have really big blind spots and as such have to be incredibly cautious when switching lanes.
  3. They take longer to pass because they are, well, long. As such, passing them on a rural road without ample visibility is foolhardy.

So, how do you dive along side semi trucks safely? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Passing

Always maintain a safe (legal) speed. Always pass on the left hand side. Never move back into the trucks lane until you have at least 4 car lengths between you. Semi drivers communicate with one another that there’s enough space to merge by flashing their lights. Pay attention to the distance between each truck when drivers do this, and try to provide similar space when you move in front of a rig.

2. Being Passed

It’s really important to work together with a truck driver who is trying to navigate his rig around your car. If you notice one trying to pass you, reduce your speed by a few miles per hour to ensure safety.

3. In reverse

When a truck is in the process of backing up, never attempt to circumnavigate the vehicle. The most seasoned driver will tell you that the hardest part of driving a rig is moving in reverse, and managing the truck’s blind spots can be nearly impossible with impatient vehicles around.

4. Turning

You’ve seen the signs, so you know that semi trucks make wide right turns. So wide that some even have to go left first in order for the maneuver to be successful. When drivers execute these turns the cars immediately behind them and beside them disappear. Don’t attempt to sneak around a truck at an intersection, even if you can’t tell what they’re doing. This is a common cause of accidents.

Important tips to remember

Being distracted, using your phone, driving when tired, and driving too fast are inherently dangerous driving habits, but when a semi truck is around, the risk of fatal injury is much higher. So, be aware of semis and what truck drivers need from you, and help make the road safe for everyone.

Guest Author: Lolita Di

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- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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